About Screen Moves: at Dancemakers Monday December 4th!

Monday is traditionally dark night in the theatre but this Monday, December 4th Dancemakers will be lit up with Screen Moves, an enterprise of dance films made specifically for the event.

Conceived by the RT Collective and presented in collaboration with Dancemakers, Screen:Moves invites 20 artists from across Canada to create original short dance films for this one-night-only program.

The program features a wide range of formats—experimental, narrative, animated and comedic works, offering a unique cross section of Canada’s diverse dance communities on screen.

Artists include: Katie Ewald (Dora Winner with Public Recordings, Outstanding Ensemble and Outstanding Production 2014), Nova Bhattacharya (Summerworks 2016 Winner Outstanding Direction) William Yong (4 Time Dora Nominee), Robert Kingsbury (Premiere’s Award for Emerging Artist), Rodney Diverlus (Choreographer and Co-founder of BLM-TO), Brandy Leary (AD of Anadam Dance), Natasha Powell (Company Member Holla Jazz), Peter Kelly (TDT Company Member), and many others.

Here's an interview with the RT Collective's Chris Dupuis and Dancemakers' Amelia Ehrhardt,  as well as Nova Bhattacharya and William Yong, artists whose work will be featured in the event.

Still from Francesca Chudnoff's Effigy

LUCY: I am wondering how the idea for Screen Moves evolved? What sparked the need to make it happen? 

CHRIS: Screen:Moves was initially conceived by Marcin Wisniewski and myself (who run the RT Collective www.rtcollective.ca). The company was founded in 2013 to present screenings, exhibitions, workshops and panel discussions centred around contemporary media arts practices. My own background is in performance, and so I had been interested in taking the platform we've established and using it as a way to start a conversation with artists working in that field.

Instead of having artists send works they've already made, artists submit proposals for new projects they want to make, and we select from those proposals to curate the program. While this is a very normal way to operate in the performance field, it's highly unusual in the film/video/media arts world. Dance film/video is an art form that has very few platforms for presentation, and so creating a space where we not only offer artists the chance to show their works, but also stimulate the creation of new works in this genre, is beneficial to both the dance sector and the media arts sector. 

On a personal level, I've also been interested in starting a conversation with Dancemakers and Amelia for a while, and so the project seemed like a good way to do that. 

Still from Katie Ewald's Bustin Makes Me Feel Good

AMELIA: From a Dancemakers perspective, Screen Moves evolved out of a former program started by my predecessors, Ben Kamino and Emi Forster. We cancelled it temporarily last season with the idea that we would pick it up again it the right partner came along, so I was thrilled when Chris approached us. More and more I feel that dance artists are looking for alternative ways to present their works, and as theatres get more expensive and digital media gets cheaper, the answer is obvious. 

Still from Nita Bowerman's Tutu

LUCY: How was the selection process? What were keys  to deciding who to program?

AMELIA: For Dancemakers we're really interested in artists trying new things - either for themselves, or trying to find new things for the form. So working with people who were pushing themselves or audiences was a priority for us. These kinds of programming decisions are always difficult....

CHRIS: Open calls can generate so much unpaid artistic labour, with people sending out proposals to different places all the time, in the hopes someone will offer them a shot. 

AMELIA: I think about this a lot, and how odd it is that people in positions like mine get paid to read the applications but artists who produce applications might not even get paid if they get programmed.

Still from Zachary Nicol's  Ill

CHRIS: You get so many amazing proposals that you have to turn down because you don't have enough money to support them all. In terms of selecting proposals, it was a three-way conversation between Amelia, Marcin, and myself, where each of us had certain proposals we were drawn to. Overall with the program, we wanted to feature a range of dance traditions as well as different approaches the medium of video. 

One thing worth mentioning about the RT Collective's curatorial process is that each program we do is made up of a small number of pre-selected artists and then completed with an open call for submissions. This process allows us to forge relationships with new artists and build relationships with artists we already know. When we're making our pre-selection for a new program, some of the artists are always people who've previously applied to one of our programs, but whom we weren't able to offer a spot to. So being turned down for one program, definitely doesn't mean that we aren't interested in working with someone.

LUCY: Nova Bhattacharya, you were one of the pre-selected artists...

Still from Nova Bhattacharya's Traces

NOVA: The invitation created the impetus for me to do something that had been on "the list" for a long time. It gave me the opportunity to put something out there that had a dancer of colour, working in a form of dance that resonates for many Canadians descended from the South Asian diaspora.

LUCY: Tell me a bit about your contribution to Screen Moves -- what are you exploring, how does it fit with your overarching artistic vision?

NOVA: It's about ritual practice and bharatnatyam iconography, the use of the body as a filtration system for emotions. It pursues an ongoing line of inquiry into ritual practice through dance and pushes the space for a wider understanding of the art form. Later this season I'll be doing a series of pop-up performances at The Theatre Centre which will continue the exploration of ritual practice through dance.

Still from Melanie Gordon's Cutting Paper

LUCY: And William, what about you? what brought you to Screen Moves?

WILLIAM: I love the idea of showcasing dance and movement in a film and show it in a movement-themed film festival. I have performed or choreographed in many dance films. When I was presented with this opportunity, I knew it would be a wonderful film-making practice for me to make another dance film.  I used to love a film festival called Moving Picture Festival but it folded many years ago. I miss it terribly. I am excited what Screen:moves has to offer.


Still from Shakeil Rollock's Mask4Masc

LUCY: So what is your film about? How does it align with your overall artistic vision?
I think this film project is rather more aligned with my artistic challenge than my artistic vision. My master degree dissertation in dance was research into the specialization of dance film and video making. It was always part of my practise to study dance films. Even in most of my full-length stage works, I often incorporate video projection visuals and integrate them into live dance. I also love editing films. I edited all of my company's trailers and teasers. So, this project is a further challenge to see how I manage technically to direct, film, light and edit a whole short film single-handed.

With my film "Quench" I am interested in how individuals have different intentions and emotions even doing the same routine activities. Particularly in a private environment.

LUCY: The bathtub?

WILLIAM: Yes, three individual immerse themselves in self-indulgent bathing ritual behind closed doors...

LUCY: This will not be your last film, clearly.

WILLIAM: My next focus will be on developing my upcoming full-length dance work for my company Zata OMM...but I want to learn more about directing and making films. I would love to make at least one feature film before I die.

Still from Natasha Powell's Jazz Dictionary

LUCY: And the future for RT Collective and Dancemakers? 

CHRIS: RT Collective has a full wave or programming set for next year, including an exhibition in March at the Gladstone Hotel as part of Myseum Toronto, and then two screenings in June and one in July. We're also definitely interested in continuing to work with Dancemakers on a second edition of this program next year and possibly some other initiative we've yet to dream up.

Still from Rodney Diverlus' film.

AMELIA: Dancemakers has its next edition of "Flowchart", on January 25th, a series of multidiscipliary performance. William Ellis will show work alongside Francesca Chudnoff and Justin de Luna -Francesca who is also showing work in Screen:Moves! - and then in February we have our last "Flowchart" of the year, with Aisha Sasha John, Marisa Hoicka, and Barbara Lindenberg/Allison Peacock. We'll also show more work by Emerging Artist in Residence Amanda Acorn, bring Andrea Spaziani's "Silver Venus" to production this year, host Lee Su-Feh's "Dance Machine", and get a first look at a new work by Antony Hamilton. 

Still from Brandy Leary's Melting

We for sure hope to keep working on this project with RT collective, it's a really ideal co-production. As for my immediate future, I'm about to go teach an adult beginner dance class, finish this tea, and hopefully have a huge sleep tonight. 

Still from Cassandra Wittman's Night Mother

Check it out this Monday, December 4th
Dancemakers Centre for Creation
9 Trinity Street
Theatre Studio 313
Toronto's Historic Distillery District
Tickets are Pay What You Can at the door 
suggested contribution of $5-$10

More info here:

all stills courtesy of RT Collective and Dancemakers. Thanks everybody!


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